Complete and utter darkness.
It’s not the darkness itself that’s frightening, but rather what it might be hiding. Amelia Watson has been afraid of the dark ever since she was a little girl, relying on the comforting glow of a nightlight to ease the frightened child to sleep.
Now, Amelia finds herself immersed, weightless in a hopelessly black void. Weightless and misguided, the only sensation Amelia feels is frigid cold. Clutching to her arms, shivering, Amelia’s blonde bob of hair quivers, her sky-blue eyes glancing about frantically, dressed only in her white dress shirt and brown skirt.
“CLAR-BEAR? K-KIARA!” Amelia recoils at the awful shriek, one of anguish, desperation. The last thing you’d expect to hear from Mori Calliope.
Calli’s whole body trembles with anxiety, her long pink hair sways with her nervous spasms, red eyes shaking, her black cloak blending in naturally with the darkness, her entire complexion is pale with fright.
“...YOU!” Calli’s eyes narrow with fury as she dives towards the detective, pinning her neck to the ground with the handle of her scythe.
“Where are they, Watson?”
Amelia barely manages to choke around a response.
“My wife and baby girl, Watson, where are they? I swear if you did anything to hurt them…” Calli sputters with her latest response, voice shaking with a sob.
Suddenly, Calli begins to raggedly cough. Continuing in intensity and volume, the coughing slowly descends into violent retching. Amelia takes advantage of the opportunity to free herself from Calli’s grip, righting herself on her feet.
Calli’s retching stops, her eyes roll to the back of her head until only bloodshot whites are visible. Opening her mouth, jagged black tendrils swing at Amelia before Calli wanders away aimlessly.
Amelia flees, quickly observing her surroundings for clues, ideas, any indication as to her surroundings. Safety for herself, warnings for Calli, concern for her family rush through her mind as she runs hastily through the expanding abyss, until quite literally running into a familiar figure.
Mori Kiara distractedly tries to soothe her daughter, Clara, as the poor girl continues to sob with occasional retching.
Kiara’s orange-cyan hair is tangled, her pink eyes tiredly gaze on her daughter, her vibrant red dress is drowned by the bleak void surrounding her. Clara looks pale and sickly, the poor girl has pink hair like Calli’s with Kiara's cyan streaks, her pink dress eclipsed in darkness.
“Ame, thank goodness! Clara’s sick and I don’t know what to do! Have you seen Calli?” Kiara begs.
“About Calli… Kiara, I think there’s something weird going on--”
“Mama?” Clara mutters weakly.
“Yes, Clara, anything!” Kiara replies.
Before Kiara can even finish her sentence, dark tendrils erupt from Clara’s mouth, piercing Kiara’s eyes, ears, and nostrils. Contorting and writhing, the tendrils dig their way through Kiara’s body until the two beings are fused in some unholy abomination.
Then, in the blink of an eye, both of them vanish.
Amelia’s heart pounds heavily, her pace quickens. She needs to get out of here. Find somebody, anybody to help.
“Ame-Senpai!” a voice cheers. Amelia’s friend IRyS runs over quickly, dragging Gawr Gura by the hand.
IRyS clashes with the environment around her horribly. With a curtain of ruby-red hair, tan skin, vibrant pink and blue eyes, IRyS’ black-white dress and otherworldly glow set her apart from the dismal setting.
Gawr Gura brings a childlike innocence similar to Clara. With white-blue hair, Gura’s sea-blue eyes are filled with concern, in contrast to the cheery shark hoodie, she is currently wearing.
Amelia knows how to warn others of the signs.
“IRyS, Gura, listen to me! Watch out for coughing and retching--”
“I know, I think Gura’s sick because--”
At once, the two girls hack and heave, their voices rising into a symphony of despair. Their pupils seemingly vanishing from sight, dark tendrils cascade from their throats until they knot together, forming a cluster of insurmountable proportions until the two girls’ bodies seemingly hang lifelessly in the air.
Backing up in horror, Amelia is surprised to run into her son.
Walter Watson’s back is turned to his mom, all Amelia can see is ruffled purple hair, the back of a white shirt, khaki pants, and brown shoes.
Gasping suddenly, Amelia feels a searing pain near her chest. Glancing down, she finds herself impaled on a dark tendril, gasping for air, Amelia looks up only to see the weeping figure of her beloved wife.
Ina’nis Watson lies crumpled on the ground, hot tears streaming down her cheeks. Her head flaps lie against her dark, long hair, Ina wears an ornate gown, similar to her priestess garb, with a shining gold crown resting against her head.
“Ame… I’m sorry!” Ina sniffles.
“Ina…? INA!” Amelia calls helplessly as her wife seemingly levitates into the air, flaps raised, grey-blues eyes hidden, as dozens of tendrils burst forth from her, entrapping Amelia in an unholy web of friends and family.
“Ina, please… Say something, anything!”
“Ina isn’t here right now, leave a message at the end of the tone,” Ina descends, her expression blank as a distorted voice seemingly booms with laughter at Amelia’s predicament.
“The Ancient Ones send their regards,”
Howls of laughter reverberate from the space, echoing off of the cavernous atmosphere, as the tendrils draw closer, consuming everyone and everything trapped within. Amelia looks one last time at the faces surrounding her before they are erased forever.
"You are all my puppets, and these are your strings!"
Amelia wakes up in a cold sweat, only to find she’s in a big, warm bed. Ina is cuddled up next to her, sleeping peacefully. Amelia wears yellow onesie pajamas while Ina wears a purple nightgown.
Carefully slipping out of Ina’s arms, Amelia makes her way to the door before quickly exiting the room. She can’t be seen, not like this.
Amelia Watson is the breadwinner, a rock, a steady, dependable wife and parent. It’s not her job to get emotional.
Amelia kneels in the hallways and cries. Out of relief, for her family’s safety. Out of horror, for what she just saw. Especially, out of a sense of vulnerability. There are forces out there beyond the detective’s control.
Gently opening the door, Walter Watson rubs his sky-blue eyes sleepily. His purple hair is in a serious case of bedhead, ruffled over his pointy ears. Wearing purple footie pajamas, Walter hugs a stuffed takodachi close to his chest.
“Heya, Walt! Why don’t you go back to bed?” Amelia suggests with an overly chipper voice.
“Mom… Have you been crying?” Walter asks concernedly.
“Nah, Mom doesn’t cry.” Amelia fibs.
Before she can say anything else, Walter wraps his mom in a tight hug, refusing to let her go for even a second.
“It’s okay to cry, Mom. I do it, too!”
So Amelia stands, wrapped in her son’s embrace, as she lets herself be overcome by emotion.
Amelia hums in affirmation.
“Why don’t you come into our room, and Mama and I can calm you down, hmm?” Amelia offers.
Creaking the door open, Ina stirs awake to see her wife and son in the doorway.
“Ina! Walt and I had nightmares, mind if we stay with you?”
“A sleepover with my two favorite people? I wouldn’t dream of having it any other way!” Ina giggles.
Both family members groan and roll their eyes in annoyance, but all the while can’t help but smile at the goofy pun. Walter, Ina, and Amelia all lie in the cozy bed together, wrapped in a tight embrace.
“If any bad dreams come in, they have to get through all three of us!” Ina affirms.
So the Watson family rests soundly asleep, safely protected from any bad dreams.